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Following Two Small Plane Crashes Already This Year & 18 Others Last Year, Schumer Urged the NTSB To Determine Steps Necessary to Ensure Safer Skies

As a Result, NTSB Will Host Aviation Safety Seminar for Pilots On LI; NTSB Says 156 NY Crashes Have Occurred in NY Over Past 5 Years

Schumer: NTSB’s First-Ever Aviation Safety Seminar On LI Could Help Prevent Future Tragedies Across The Region 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced, today, that after his push asking the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to undergo a comprehensive safety review in response to a string of small plane crashes on Long Island, the agency has agreed to host a first-ever plane safety seminar on Long Island. Seminars like the one committed to Long Island have been extremely popular and helpful in other parts of the country. These seminars are well attended, make the skies safer, and even allow pilots educational credits they can use to lower their insurance costs. 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that’s why it’s good news that the National Transportation Safety Board is heeding the call and taking smart steps to address small plane crashes and pilot safety on Long Island,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “The aviation safety seminar that will land on Long Island will help pilots from across the region prevent a leading cause of aviation accidents, loss of control, and will touch on issues of upkeep and other safety topics that have contributed to Long Island crashes. I am pleased that the NTSB continues to be committed to making local aviation safety issue a top priority and working to ensure safer skies above.”

Earlier this year, Schumer urged the NTSB to look into the alarming spate of crashes and determine whether additional steps are necessary to ensure safer skies. Schumer’s renewed call came when two small plane crashes occurred just days apart; one plane crashed smack in the middle of a neighborhood in New Jersey and nearly hit a home after taking off from Long Island, and the other crashed on Long Island. However, Schumer said that at least 18 other small plane crashes occurred in New York State last year, including 10 on Long Island alone. Schumer said that the NTSB’s decision to hold a seminar on Long Island will help prevent future tragedies.

Schumer added, “Safety must be our number one priority because these crashes have unfortunately resulted in death, injuries and even downright frightened neighbors. That’s why I have been pushing to see what more can be done, because if we can improve safety in the air, we can help prevent these kinds of crashes and inevitably save lives, too”

According to the NTSB, since 2012, there have been 156 aviation accidents in New York and one-third of the accidents were due loss of control in-flight or on the ground. The NTSB says preventing loss of control in-flight within the aviation community is on its “Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements.” According to the NTSB,  other causes of aviation accidents include loss of engine power, controlled flight into terrain, and hard landings. 

In response to Schumer’s push, the NTSB has said they will host an aviation safety seminar on Long Island this year and invite members of New York’s aviation community to attend. According to the NTSB, possible topics to be addressed may include: in-flight loss of control, and other issues that pilots believe to be important to air safety, like, mechanics or up-keep.

Earlier this year, two New York-area and Long Island-related crashes occurred in the span of just days:

 ·         February 19, 2017- a single-engine Piper PA-28 took off from Republic Airport and crashed into a residential area of Bayonne, N.J. Only the pilot suffered minor injuries, but the plane crashed in a neighborhood and nearly hit a home.

·         February 26, 2017- a Nation F. being used for practice at the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach crashed feet away from the runway causing two fatalities and leaving one passenger with minor injuries.  

And in 2016, at least 18 crashes occurred in New York, many in the LI-region:

  • On February 12th, a Cessna 152 taking off from Long Island MacArthur Airport caught fire after landing at Calabro Airport in Shirley. The NTSB has determined the probable cause to be the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate terrain clearance while landing, resulting in a collision with a snow berm, nose gear collapse and post impact fire. 
  • On February 20th, a Piper Archer flying from Fitchburg Municipal Airport in Massachusetts crashed into Setauket Harbor; one passenger was tragically killed. 
  • On March 5th, a Cirrus SF22 flying from Rhode Island crash landed in Hauppauge industrial park. 
  • On March 11th, a Cessna 152 flying from Republic Airport made an emergency landing on a Kings Park beach.  
  • On April 10th, a Piper Cherokee flying from the Bayport Aerodrome crashed and caught fire on a Bayport residential street. The pilot and passenger were injured.  
  • On April 18th, a Cessna 172C, N1863Y collided with trees and terrain during takeoff from Westmoreland, New York. The private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured and one passenger sustained minor injuries.  
  • On April 30th, a 1947 Stinson made an emergency landing in Riverhead. No injuries were reported. 
  • On May 3rd, a  Beechcraft V35B Bonanza flying from North Myrtle Beach to Connecticut broke up midair and crashed in Syosset; all three passengers on board were tragically killed.
  • On May 19th, a Piper PA-28-180, N7781W, experienced a loss of control during a touch and go landing and collided with airport signage at Genesee County Airport. The pilot was not injured. 
  • May 27: The pilot was killed when a World War II-era single-seat P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane crashed into the Hudson River during a promotional flight for the American Airpower Museum. 
  • June 20: A twin-engine plane was badly damaged when it crash-landed at Republic Airport. The pilot, who said the plane’s landing gear and a warning system failed, and a second occupant were not injured. The aircraft was owned by Ponderosa Air.  
  • On July 2, a Fleet 16B biplane, N666J, was damaged during landing at Old Rhinebeck Airport. The pilot and passenger were not injured.  
  • On July 16, a Piper PA-28R-201, N2241Q, was destroyed by collision with terrain and a post-crash fire after takeoff from Hogan Airport. The pilot was seriously injured and three passengers were fatally injured.   
  • On August 8, a Cessna 177, N30923 was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain while maneuvering near McDonough, New York. The pilot and three passengers incurred minor injuries.  
  • On August 20, an experimental, amateur built Kitfox 4-1200, N51TM, was substantially damaged while landing at Canandaigua Airport. The pilot was not injured.  
  • On September 25, a Cessna 120, N3580V and a Piper PA-28-140, N612FL, collided in midair while flying over North Collins, New York. The Cessna was destroyed and the pilot was fatally injured. The Piper was destroyed and the pilot and its passenger were fatally injured.  
  • On October 31, a Cessna TR192, N4657S was substantially damaged when the main landing gear collapsed while landing at Watertown International Airport. The pilot was not injured.  
  • Dec. 11: Two men were rescued from frigid waters off Shoreham when their single-engine aircraft crashed into the Long Island Sound. The men swam from the plane to a large boulder, which they clung to until rescuers arrived. 

A copy of Schumer’s March letter to the NTSB is below:

Dear Chairman Hart: 

I write to request the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) undertake a comprehensive safety review of the recent string of small plane accidents on Long Island and across the country in order to help develop recommendations that could prevent future incidents. As the independent and objective federal agency charged by Congress with conducting thorough safety investigations, I call on your expertise and authority to immediately begin a comprehensive review of these repeated incidents. I strongly urge you not just to conduct yet another investigation following the recent crash in Southampton, NY, but to also undertake a comprehensive and system-wide review to understand why these accidents are happening and what can be done in order to decrease the occurrences. The number of airplane crashes across the system must be reduced.

As you know, on February 26, it was reported that a single-engine plane crashed in Southampton, NY, killing two people and injuring a third on the aircraft. Last May, a single-engine plane crashed in Syosset, New York killing three people on board and showering debris over a two-mile heavily populated area, close to two public schools. In the months before that incident, a small plane crashed in a Bayport neighborhood when the pilot lost power shortly after takeoff from a nearby airport and a Cessna flying from Republic Airport had to make an emergency landing on a Kings Park beach. Fortunately, in both incidents the passengers survived and neither incident harmed anyone on the ground. There is considerable and well-founded concern on Long Island about the frequency of these accidents, their lethalness to those involved, and their potential to induce catastrophe to residents on the ground. Thus far, horrible collateral damage has been avoided, but the potential for this kind of devastating harm remains all-too-possible, and your agencies’ recommendations on how to reduce this risk is sorely needed.

The NTSB has a long history of strong and independent safety advocacy. In that light, we ask that, as you examine the most recent accident in Southampton, you broaden your scope. We strongly urge you to not look at this accident just as an isolated incident, but rather to take a thorough examination of all related safety issues both in New York and across the country. Last May, I wrote to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Huerta expressing my concern about a recent uptick in aviation accidents on Long Island and asked the FAA to examine if this is a trend. I also wrote to the FAA last June over my concern about continued reports of drops in RAMP inspections – critical safety checks that occur before flights take off. With both the reduction in inspections and the continued instances of small plane crashes on Long Island, I believe strongly that the time has come for NTSB to conduct a top to bottom review of this issue.   

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to your response and to reviewing the findings of the examination to reduce the number of accidents. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.


Charles E. Schumer